Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu dashed hopes today that he would accept a truce proposal put forward by the Palestinian resistance, and instead vowed to press on with a new phase of the genocide that promises to be the most deadly and horrific yet. Speaking alongside U.S. Secretary of State Blinken today, Netanyahu announced that the Israeli war machine would press on “until the end”, adding that “There is no other solution besides complete victory.” He went on to say that in order to do that, he was ordering Israeli troops to “prepare to operate” in the southernmost part of Gaza – Rafah.
Netanyahu’s comments echoed statements from his defense minister Yoav Gallant, who said on Monday, “we will also reach the places where we have not yet fought in the central and southern strip, and especially the last center of gravity left in Hamas hands—Rafah.”
It is hard to put into words the vast suffering and widespread death that such a military operation would be bound to inflict. As the U.S.-supplied Israeli military rampaged across Gaza, the population has been pushed further and further south.
Gaza is divided into five governorates, and Rafah is the region furthest south that borders Egypt. Before the war, Rafah city’s population was less than 200,000, and under 300,000 lived in the whole Rafah region. But since the genocide began, the majority of Gaza’s population has fled there, swelling the governorate’s population to 1.5 million.
Rafah is tiny – about 25 square miles. That’s roughly the same physical size as Newark, New Jersey, and about half the size of San Francisco. The population density of Rafah is now double the density of New York City.
The Palestinian refugees who have been forced into this area by the U.S.-Israeli onslaught live under the most terrible conditions. Families are forced to sleep in makeshift tents or simply out in the open. Starvation and disease are rife. The spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called Rafah “a pressure cooker of despair”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the situation in Rafah was “a humanitarian nightmare”.
And now, the Israeli military is pledging to smash into the area with full force. The loss of life could easily be the most horrific yet as the trapped population is subjected to non-stop and indiscriminate Israeli bombardment from the air, land and sea – a bombardment carried out with weapons paid for by U.S. tax dollars.
The offensive on Rafah also has a sinister political motivation behind it. Since the genocide commenced, leaders of the Israeli regime have openly advocated for the permanent removal of the Palestinian population from Gaza, sometimes referring to this euphemistically as the “voluntary migration” of Palestinians out of Gaza. Under this twisted vision, most Gazans would be displaced into the Sinai peninsula – the region of Egypt directly across the border from Rafah.
The Palestinian people have been steadfast in their resistance and refuse to leave their land. Israel, with the support of the Biden administration, is amping up the violence to terrifying new heights in a vain attempt to terrorize Palestinians into submission.
Joe Biden, Israel’s main weapons supplier and principal political sponsor, has the power to stop the horrors of an offensive against Rafah from becoming a reality. As the apartheid regime prepares for what it hopes will be the blood-soaked finale of their war on Gaza, now is the time to rise up in solidarity with even more strength than before.